In The Kitchen

The REFB Kitchen Collective Program transforms donated ingredients into complex, nutritious, seasonal entrées for low-income seniors and families throughout Sonoma County. Under the leadership of our creative chef, Don Nolan, several groups of dedicated volunteers gather Monday through Friday to combine fresh produce, staple foods, proteins and whole grains, to create wholesome and delicious heat-and-serve meals for our low-income neighbors in need.

Kitchen Collective entrées help alleviate the challenges associated with preparing a healthy meal for those who have limited resources, disabilities, illness, lack of knowledge or understanding, or time or energy constraints due to overwhelming life circumstances.

Learn More

This month, Chef Don and his team of volunteer sous chefs are preparing Kung Pao Cauliflower!








Kung Pao Cauliflower
Searing the cauliflower in this recipe before marinating softens the cauliflower, which opens up the florets and creates more surface area for the marinade to stick to. If you marinate it raw, it will burn before becoming tender.
  • 2 tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 tsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 medium head cauliflower about 1&3/4 pounds
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 6 dried japones chiles, chiles de arbol or other red chile
  • 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns or 1/2 tsp cracked black peppercorns
  • 3 scallions dark green and white parts separated, thinly sliced
  • 1 serrano chile sliced
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • 1/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
  • kosher salt
  • Steamed white rice for serving
  1. Stir wine, cornstarch, and 1 Tbsp. soy sauce in a medium bowl; set marinade aside. 
  2. Stir vinegar, hoisin sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and remaining 2 tsp. soy sauce in a small bowl; set sauce aside. 
  3. Remove leaves and cut cauliflower into medium florets. Trim woody end of stalk and discard, then cut stalk into ½"-thick pieces. 
  4. Heat 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a wok or large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Cook cauliflower, tossing occasionally, until browned in places and beginning to soften, 7–9 minutes. Give reserved marinade a stir to reincorporate cornstarch and add cauliflower to bowl; toss to coat. Toss occasionally. Reduce heat to medium.
  5. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in wok,. Add dried chiles and peppercorns and cook, tossing, just until fragrant (be careful not to burn), about 30 seconds.
  6. Transfer chiles, and peppercorns to a plate. Return cauliflower to wok with a slotted spoon; discard excess marinade. Cook cauliflower, tossing occasionally, until charred in spots and crisp tender (short of scorching it, don’t worry about letting it go pretty dark), 8–10 minutes. 
  7. Add scallion whites, serrano chile, ginger, garlic, and peanuts and cook, tossing often, until sauce is fragrant and cauliflower is tender, about 2 minutes tossing, just until sauce coats cauliflower, about 1 minute; season with salt. Transfer to a serving dish and top with scallion greens. Serve with rice alongside.


Chef’s Recipe Box

Find archived recipes here!

Interested in volunteering in the Kitchen Collective?

Click here to sign up!

Need food?

Call Food Connections at the REFB to find a distribution site in your community: 707-523-7903,
Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:30 pm.

Back to Top